North Korea reports first COVID death after country implements lockdown


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North Korean state media reported Friday that six people have died and 350,000 have been treated for a fever after acknowledging an outbreak of COVID-19 for the first time since the pandemic’s start. 

Nearly half of the 350,000 who developed the fevers have recovered, according to North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The nation said it does not know the cause of the fever.

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On Thursday alone, 18,000 people were newly found with fever symptoms. 

More than 187,000 people are currently quarantined, and KCNA said one of the six people who died was infected by the omicron variant. 

It remains unclear how many of the total illnesses were coronavirus-related.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that cases are down globally, except for the Americas and Africa.

The agency says North Korea has reported tests of 64,200 people – an extremely low figure compared with other countries. 

Last year, North Korea rejected millions of COVID-19 vaccine shots offered by the United Nations (UN)-backed COVAX distribution program.

NORTH KOREA REPORTS FIRST COVID-19 OUTBREAK, IMPOSES NATIONWIDE LOCKDOWN 

South Korea’s president said Friday that the country would offer to supply North Korea with vaccines, according to reports. 

On Thursday, North Korea implemented a nationwide lockdown.

“It is the most important challenge and supreme tasks facing our party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation at an early date, restore the stability of epidemic prevention and protect the health and wellbeing of our people,” KCNA quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as saying.

KCNA said Kim also criticized officials, saying the outbreak was centered around the capital of Pyongyang. 

The outbreak may be linked to a military parade in April. 

Notably, railroad freight traffic reopened between North Korea and China in January, although the border has since been shut.

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Hours after North Korea confirmed the outbreak it launched three suspected ballistic missiles toward the sea. 

The provocation comes as President Biden is preparing to visit South Korea and Japan late next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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